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Machali

I took this photograph of Ranthambhore's well known tigress, 'Machali', during my visit to the tiger reserve in April 2014. This famous tigress is approaching her seventeenth birthday!  Quite an achievement for a tiger living in the wild!  Up until recently an exception had been made for Machali to receive food supplimented to her occasional ungulate kills. However, I am told that this practice is now to be halted due to a recent court order.  It is not for me to argue over the rights and wrongs of providing Machali with a little extra to her diet but I do feel that as this practice has been started, it should be continued on a limited scale until she eventually passes away. I was particularly disturbed to learn from local guides that a forest guard has been instructed to keep a 24 hour watch over this elderly tigress until her demise. This is because an order has been made for her body to be taken to a taxidermist.  Machali will then be 'displayed' at a local museum!  In my opinion this decision is appalling.  Machali has been a mother to four litters of cubs creating great interest during her lifetime.  She has been followed by photographers and film makers  earning the park much revenue.  I feel strongly that when Machali's end comes, she deserves enough respect to be cremated in the park and her ashes scattered over her home range. I hope that after the result of the Indian election this month, common sense will prevail and that Machali will receive the dignity and solemn farewell from the forest staff that she truly deserves.